Mentoring the Next Generation

Career planning strategies can help mentors - parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, senior business leaders and advisors in preparing the next generation for their roles in family business. Here are six ideas that can help the mentors in effectively guiding the next generation of family members.

Understand career development

The younger generation may realize what they want to become only in their late twenties or early thirties.
However as there is considerable pressure on them to take up family business as a career, the possibility of choosing a path without fully considering other more suitable career options is quite high. It is thus essential that their mentors have in-depth working knowledge about the various stages of career development. The family mentor can assist them develop their interests and skills at their own pace. This way, the members of next generation who decide to pursue a career in the family business will bring in broader perspective.

Educate about the business

On a continuous basis, the family mentors should provide the next gen members with maximum information about the family business during the exploration phase of career development. Next gen members who are interested in further exploration should be provided avenues for early work experience (internship, projects, job rotations, meetings etc).

Create a career development committee

The formation of a career development committee will help the next gen members with career exploration.
The committee should comprise of a senior member from the family, HR Head, a Board member and an outside consultant.  Committee members should schedule regular meetings with the next gen members for personal coaching, to advise on the choice of educational courses, recommend organizations for relevant work experience, and expose them to various career assessment tools and personality tests in order to ascertain their skills
and preferences.

Provide clear criteria

Clear entry criteria must be laid down to ensure that there is no preferential treatment to less qualified family members. Criteria should include educational qualification in specific area, a certain number of years of outside and industry related experience. Same evaluation and promotion criteria should be applied for family as well as non family candidates.

Support worthy venture capital projects

Some next gen members may become interested in a career in family business once the above mentioned steps are negotiated. However, some others who have inherited the entrepreneurial spirit and talent may realize that they are not interested in pursuing a career in family business but may be interested in setting up their own enterprise.
A venture capital committee comprising of senior family members and non family employees could be set up to evaluate the proposal of the next gen members. It could be in the best interests of the family and the company to support this new venture, affording a chance for a more talented member of the next generation to branch out on their own, perhaps helping the company diversify its market at the same time.

Provide multiple options for participation

If the next gen members are not guided in this manner the only choice available Vis a Vis the family business will be either "in" or "out". Mentors must provide alternate options for the next gen members to participate in the family business to develop a sense of responsibility towards their own legacy. It is vital to note that the family business field is recognizing the importance of involving the next gen members in the business.

Finally, it must be emphasized that business families that match the aspirations of the next gen members and encourage the emergence of multi faceted adults are successful in the long run.

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